Album of The Year (Of The Week): Andre Cymone '1969'!

I'm not gonna lie to you, if you'd have told me back in, say, 1982 that I would be raving about a new Andre Cymone album in the year 2017, I'd have probably ignored you because when someone says something that idiotic, the last thing I want to do is dignify it with a response.

Despite being a big fan of Prince's early work and knowing Andre Cymone as a permanent fixture of the Purple One's touring band, it wasn't as if mimicking Prince's bass parts in-concert gave me any sort of idea of Cymone's own artistic prowess.

The same could be said for Columbia Records, who signed Cymone the very moment he became a free agent and then couldn't figure out what to do with the three albums he would deliver to them between 1982 and 1985. As a last ditch effort, Cymone recorded a song given to him by Prince called "The Dance Electric" that became an obligatory R&B hit but failed to generate any smoke at all on the pop charts.

You certainly couldn't blame Columbia at that point, as they were successfully promoting another Prince song at roughly the same time for the Bangles, "Manic Monday" while stacks of Andre Cymone's third album AC gathered dust in CBS warehouses.

Not to get off on a tangent, but what does it say about Prince that he delivers "Manic Monday" to the Bangles with a little bow on top while offhandedly chucking an obvious dud like "The Dance Electric" (which, if you listen, sounds an awful lot like MJ's 'Thriller' at times) to Cymone, the friend who opened up his home to Prince as a teenager and treated him like a brother for six years after a falling out with his father?

By 1987, Cymone had parted ways with Columbia and scored an immediate mega-hit with Jody Watley's "Looking For A New Love", which he co-wrote and produced for his future wife. That same year, he produced Adam Ant's Manners & Physique, the only Ant album this lifelong Ant fan refuses to let in the house.

While the album included the Top 20 hit "Room At The Top", the critics savaged Ant's sudden change in musical direction, not to mention Cymone's production. Neither career was ever the same.

Cymone contributed music to Beverly Hills Cop 2 and then left the industry altogether.

30 years down the road, Prince is no longer with us and we find ourselves searching for heroes and voices to believe in. It's a strange time to be alive because everything, it seems, is in a state of flux and the subtle nuances of humanity are being lost amidst the static of divisive media narratives.

Who knew that out of that chaos would come one of the most remarkable albums to come down the turnpike in quite some time, Andre Cymone's 1969?

Thankfully, gone are the "Revenge Of The Nerds"-style new wave leanings that marred his Columbia output and in its place is a rootsy, funk-laden rock sound that tops anything Lenny Kravitz has put out this century.

Come to think of it, can you imagine those two in the studio together?

It is, after all, Cymone's stellar production on 1969 that does the near-impossible by making you feel like you're in a room watching a very kick-ass band blow the roof off the dump. Actual musicians, soulful singing, and songs that you find yourself humming the next day.

Coming from an artist whose background is so synth-based, quite frankly, I was amazed at the well-recorded organic performances Cymone captured throughout an album that covers so much musical territory, yet never strays too far from the heart. It's that heart that propels songs like "Black Lives Matter" and "Point And Click" to rise above their contrived titles and deliver the kind of shivers that make you pull the car off to the side of the road and go "Damn."

I'm gonna go one step further and say that this album is better than anything Prince released this century and it's a damn shame Prince didn't live long enough to cover one of these songs.

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